It is Enough

As he put his neck on the block of wood as ordered, he thought to himself.

“I am a citizen.  So it will end in an instant.  That much, is a good thing. But really . . . why?”

In the last moments of his life, Gaius Cassius Longinus was perplexed.  His life – it wasn’t supposed to end like this.  His thoughts went back in time . . .

+++

He was a man under orders, as he had told even the man.  He had heard the man was a healing man from the talk of the people.  Longinus knew he himself was one of those most hated – and his type most of all, since they were the boots on the ground.  But he went and asked anyway.  His best and most beloved servant was very near to dying.  The healing Man could have ignored him, but he actually listened.  He thought to himself:

“All I said was the Legion Code – ‘When a man has authority, he uses it and makes things happen.'”

He was willing to come to my home, but I knew that was forbidden to me and to him.    I told him the Code, told him about my authority.  He said something about my saying all of that – that my servant would be healed.  By all the gods, he was a strange man, but when my other servant came running up telling me that Marcus was again well, I had to turn and look at the Healer.  He smiled as if it was supposed to be, and then went about whatever he was talking about to the people gathered around him.  When I got home, Marcus was acting as if he were a new man, active and energetic and as happy as he could be.  I was amazed.  “Perhaps,” I thought to myself, “I should have asked about my own failing eyesight.”  But I had troops to watch over and direct.  I was soon back to my business.  Marcus was well, I knew he had things covered at home.  Doing what I do is not an easy life, and the things Marcus could and would do were very valuable to me.  I went about my business.

But I kept tabs on the Healer.  He was always talking about “forgiving my neighbor.”  It was a strange, very unfamiliar idea. but I began to use the idea in my dealing with the people.  Whatever works, I thought to myself.  If it made my job easier – all the better.  And it seemed to do just that – not only with the people, but with the morale of my troops.  Such an attitude does make things better for me.  But I realized it was somehow making me see things about myself I wanted to be better.  He was a strange man indeed.  And Marcus was daily proof of that.

+++

I received new orders.  I, and my men, were placed as the new Temple guards.  This people were a riotous bunch, true, and we had to keep law and order in place.  That one murderous idiot, Barab – whatever his name was – he killed one of my own soldiers.  Can’t have that – way, way out-of-bounds.  I gave him over to my superiors in chains.  He was caught in the act, so I knew he was a doomed man.  For a second, I wondered what the Healing Man would have thought.  But I had a job to do.

Then, things seemed to go crazy.  There was a big celebration in the city, and somehow, the Healer seemed to be the focus of most of it, if not all.  The Healer caused some problems, but I warned my men not to act too suddenly.  I knew there seemed to be some odd thing about it all, but yet again, I had a job to do, and the boss was not a big fan of wholesale butchering.  I had at that point, wished I had stayed on my father’s small farm, following in his footsteps.  But the military beckoned with its glory, and I succumbed and joined.  I promoted quickly in this forsaken outpost, but now, keeping matters in hand become a serious chore.  A man under orders!

He wondered about the Healer.  He spoke of that same thing.  Except, it was odd – he called his commander “Father.”   Then he heard the command.  He braced himself.

His last thoughts went back to the events that one week.  They let the Healer be after he trashed the merchants’ tables.  They were a pain, anyway.  He had some serious words for those in charge of matters, but again, he could not fault the Healer.  But then, Thursday, he disappeared.  At the time, he wondered why.  Later that night, in Gethsemane, he had somewhat of an answer.  He simply asked why when told to arrest the Healer, but his boss was adamant.  So he had his troops do the deed.  He hated it, but it was what he had to do.

His troops got stupid with whipping the man.  He had to stop them.  He wanted to remove the thorns from the man’s head, but things were moving fast.  Pilate had given him little choice.   He felt helpless, and yet, somehow responsible.  Then came the orders – Jesus was condemned to a cross.  The murderer of his troops set free.  It made no sense whatsoever – where was Roman justice?  But then, wherever was he was there – in Palestine.

He did the deed and led the prisoner to the Hill.  He had to do so.  Nothing about it was right, but it was not his call.  He had, for years, taken orders as well as giving orders.  He could only do his job.

He led the march to the Hill.  He tried his best to keep his men from whipping the Healer, but the end of the march would lead to its inevitable end.  It did.  The spikes through the hands, more painfully through the feet.  He remembered wincing.  He had helped his servant.  He heard Pilate – this was absurd.  But what could he possibly do about it?

He heard all the words the Healer spoke, even hammered to the wood.  The man was beyond describing.  Even hanging in death, he seemed defiant.  How could the man be so?  But then, suddenly he quit, and the quick-moving clouds meant making sure.  The other two men hanging were on the edge of death.  But the Healer, in the middle, had already declared he had given his spirit to someone, and died.  He did the only thing he could at that point – aimed his spear at the heart of the man to be sure.  He hated crucifixions.  So like the many barbarians they had to deal with, but the people had demanded it.  As he plunged the spear into the Healer’s side, he saw the blood and water come fly out for a moment, until the flow hit his eyes.  It burned.  He grabbed the red robe of the healer from one of his men and wiped his eyes.

He was speechless.  His vision was as it was in his youth – perfect.  But more than seeing perfectly, it suddenly hit him.  He didn’t mean to be vocal in saying so, but the words tumbled out of his mouth – “Truly, this was the Son of God.”

+++

Those words were the motivation for all he did afterward – resigning his commission, and following the disciples of the Healer.  He knew the two men who had met the Healer that Sunday afternoon going to Emmaus.  The men were incredulous about the whole matter, but somehow, the old centurion understood.  He had heard the Healer’s words in the people’s courtyard.  Pilate seemed confused, and finally just had water poured over his hands.  The old Roman custom of “being done with a matter.”  The Healer had made the incredible prediction of rising from the dead, and the two fellows who had journeyed to Emmaus that afternoon – they were good men who would not make things up.  They had seen something that had completely changed who they were.

The old centurion fully understood now.  Jesus was Who He said He was.  Longinus was there and heard the Healers’s words even on the Cross of His death.  He had healed Marcus because only He could.  He now understood it.  The man was the God He had always said He was.  His healing of Marcus was no accident, but intended – for not only Marcus’ sake, but Longinus’ as well.  He understood.

He heard the command – he knew it well.  He relaxed, and prayed simply, as had the one man on the side of the Healer at his death – “Lord, remember me when you come into Your Kingdom.”  Longinus knew he was heard at the instant the blade of the executioner’s ax touched his neck.  But –

He knew . . . and that was enough.

+++   +++

The Catholic and Orthodox Churches consider Gaius Cassius Longinus a saint.  He is not mentioned in the “received” Canon of Scripture, but only in the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus.  The history of Longinus can be found here,  pb

Advertisements

Yukking It Up at Waterloo!

I have been waiting, since the entire Whitewater Affair, coupled with Billy Boy’s sexual misadventures that did get him impeached, but not convicted, for the “What goes around comes around” – and the whole “Travelgate” affair, to get back to that illustrious couple – the Clintons.

It has arrived, albeit in disguise.

The Mueller-esque masquerade will not, as one writer put it so well, give the commie dems an opportunity for impeaching our new President, but instead force Mueller to indict himself, or resign and permit whatever SP successor do the deed.  Not a nice either/or, but it hardly breaks my heart.  He is the man who approved and cleared the way for the Uranium One deal with Russia.  Of course, the Kenyan communist signed off on the deal, but the primary beneficiaries?

You can guess.  Let me speak kindly here – it was that charitable giant of our times – the Clinton Foundation.

Snort!  Read that – Bill and Hillary.

Countless commenters on the right, to whatever degree right of say, John Boehner, Paul Ryan, and Mitch the B*tch, are busy commenting on the Manafort/Gates indictment.  To be perfectly blunt, Mueller (about whom I hold opinions I shall/should not print here) – should have handed the Manafort and Gates matter over for prosecution on tax evasion charges.  But then, that would mean there was someone reliable at the IRS, which is its own story!

But another in the Clinton scheme/plan – Rod Rosenstein – was seeking DJT’s scalp.  It may be that soon, Ole Rod himself will no longer have need of a barber.  That Tony Podesta stepped down from his “group” today, should have his brother John also packing for his flight to Ireland, where it is said deportation from is quite difficult.  But with the commie dem types – their arrogance is such that they imagine, as do the Clinton’s, that they are virtually untouchable, even though Mueller’s indictment of Manafort had referenced Tony.

It’s happening right in front of us, Sports Fans.  We’re finally getting to see, in our lifetimes, the end of the Clinton Crime Syndicate.

Other, self-professed “wiser heads” will call my words wishful thinking.  We shall see who is correct in the end.  But I have followed the Bill and Hillary Show ever since the evening they played Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow” on their victory stage in Little Rock on November 3rd, 1992.  I have never stopped thinking about tomorrow on that count.

Again – it’s happening right in front of us, Sports Fans.

And I have followed the trajectory of my President from the day he descended down to his interview in his own Tower in NY on June 16, 2015.  It has been a delightful, but also amazing – ride.  The Wall is coming along, albeit “Paul Ryan” slowly, and the above as well.  The Art of the Deal takes time.

I am just staying, as always, well-stocked on my fave white cheese popcorn, and my Milwaukee Spring Water.  Like with the Astros win last night . . .

I don’t want to miss a single pitch!

The Task

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.  (II Timothy 4:2 – KJV)

+++

It is the task of all men who have been called to this task of being a Pastor.  We are the mortal ἄγγελος – often translated as “angels” within Scripture when it speaks of certain Heavenly beings, but the root meaning is “messengers.”  We were ordained by Christ through the Church to proclaim His Gospel of repentance and forgiveness to all, apply the Blessed Mysteries of the same  Gospel – in the face of any and all opposition.

That’s it – in the proverbial nutshell.

What does it mean in literal terms?  Pretty much – dealing with all the satan and hell have wrought on the earth to others.  Were I to consider the task from a worldly perspective, I would, in a heartbeat, simply say that the pay scale is completely unrealistic, but then again, if I took the worldly perspective, I would not have taken the yoke, symbolized by the stole, upon my shoulders.  And while some think that, upon retirement, that yoke is somehow removed, it is not true.  It remains, as this humble blog and most everything written here stand as clear testimony.  It is not merely what I do, it is who I am.  It is not out-of-bounds for me to say, as one who stands in the stead of Christ, to appropriate His own words before Pilate:

Pilate therefore said unto Him, “Art thou a king then?” Jesus answered, “Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice.”

Of course, Christ is the King.  I am but the King’s messenger, as I alluded to above.  But the King’s messenger, in what he spoke, spoke with the authority of the King.  So it is my yoke, my task, to speak and write as I do.  To this end, I must confess, I was born.  And it shall be, bearing the yoke, that I die.

Will I get back into the “active” situation again?  Although that is never man’s call, but the Lord’s, I shan’t hold my breath.  Part-time pulpit filling, or covering vacations – those may well come.  Whatever happens, I am will be okay with it – as I said – it is not my call.  Being content?  Well, now, that requires a bit more work.

So – I write.  I often use the lectionary.  Other times, a pericope or a verse, like the one above, serve as a text.  And I enjoy the “nuts and bolts” of the work – the Scripture in the original languages – which helps me stay up on those; various sections and passages from the Book of Concord; and other trustworthy commentaries – books or online – I bury myself in the text.  From there, theme/title and outline seem to materialize in short order, as do various illustrations from the “now” – and that because I read pretty much all day.  Current events, trends in the Church, general news and trends affecting Church members and whomever – I find illustrations everywhere.  All left at that point is the task of putting it into manuscript form, printing, and if I know it will be actually be preached, practiced incessantly and corrected as needed.

I make sure it is the Gospel as brought to us through the Scriptural text, not my opinion.  At that point – the choice of hymns for the Divine Liturgy are just a matter of which fit my manuscript and the text best.  I then run them by two extremely knowledgeable critics – one lay, one Ordained.

+++

It is what I can do these days – be ready – and be “in form” – as it were.  Vestments are always in order and in their travel bags.  Shoes and suit and clericals are always good to go.

+++

So – I wait.  I write.  I pray.  And I do it all over again, and again.

It is what it is.

It is what I do.

It is what – and who – I am.

Pax

The Reformation

Reformation Sunday – 2017

Matthew 11:12-19

Opening Hymn: A Mighty Fortress

Hymn of the Day: Thy Strong Word

Communion Hymn: Here, O My Lord, I See Thee Face to Face

Close: The Church’s One Foundation

+++

From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, “ ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” 

+++

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son+ and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.  Oh, Sweet Jesus, may we never be judged by those words!

But we are, you know.  Pastors and Churches and laity all pussyfoot their way around this text – yet, in it,  is the entire Reformation of the Holy Church, and the very salvation of our own souls!   Everyone expects some sort of ode to Luther and the Confessors on this day, along with singing “A Mighty Fortress” – and I grant that is proper – I love that hymn!  But the very best way to do all of that is to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Luther was all about that!  And God help me mightily, I pray by the minute – that is what my Divine Call is all about.

+++

Jesus is here calling to attention the Jews, and all of us, to a great sin – that of being fickle.  Of taking everything as a “Yeah, so what?” or worse, simply arguing around a matter.  But here the matter is the Christ, and the Gospel, and in Him, and His Gospel, one must understand – it is holy ground upon which we tread.  It is His Gospel, His promise, His bloody sacrifice, His Church, His Holy Sacraments, His pulpit, His Holy Altar, His Blessed and Holy Body and Blood.  Do we . . . can we . . . have we ever . . . thought in those terms?

+++

Have you ever wondered at the exuberance and outright joyfulness of newbies in our midst?  I have had the delight – the absolute JOY of ushering in said newbies through the Pastor’s Classes.  They come in on fire, and the normal reaction I hear is, so often one that is so very disappointing and yes, sinful.  “Don’t worry, they will settle down and settle in.”  All of which is to say what Jesus accused the Jews of doing when He said to them:

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.”  (Matthew 23:15 – KJV)

When will we permit that which is called “reformation” actually enter into this congregation?  Has the hellish sacrament of “This is the way we have always done it!” taken such a bloody hold on us all, that we cannot see what Jesus is saying to us?  Must we always make light of, or so ridicule the Gospel?

What is wrong with us?

+++

What is wrong with us is our sin – not merely our deeds, but who we are.  It would be one thing if we truly recognized that and were truly contrite and repentant about it.  But we are not.  We stand in front of the “spiritual mirror” and congratulate ourselves that we are not like our neighbor who does this or that or whatever.  Who are we to judge such matters?  Has God come down to each of you either in dreams or while wide awake and appointed you masters over anything in His Kingdom?  No.  And yet, as did Adam and Eve, as did the Pharisees, we persist in going our own way, each of us unto his own “thing” as it were.  The Holy Church is about NONE of those things, nor even, about “us” – but about Christ – the Jesus – the Messiah – He who died that we might live – not unto ourselves, but into eternity.  Why do we fight Him so?

+++

We fight Him, because we are fickle, as I said back in the beginning.  We don’t want to be held to a standard, to any givens, to the right way of doing things.  We don’t want to be pinned down by anything!  We want to be free agents, as if Jesus went through his bloody and miserable death so we can do what we like, or continue to do those things we know are not right, but since we’ve always done them, we must continue, right?

Wrong!  A thousand, thousand times – wrong!  Listen to our Gospel lesson again:

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!

How different are we from the Pharisees, when we make our convenient excuses for what we do?

+++

A “reformation” is about reforming what is wrong.  The very first question each of us must ask of ourselves is this: “What is wrong with me?   It is also the hardest question we ask ourselves.  But this is not about ourselves, as I pointed out two weeks ago.  This is about a relationship we have with God, and with our neighbor who is whomever is close.  Luther told us we should be “little Christs” – willing and able to show to everyone the love of God for us, and our love for one another.  Doing so is tough – it is the hardest thing there is to do in this world.   Only Jesus could do it perfectly, and yet, and still . . . by Faith He grants us entrance into such a remarkable thing.  In the end, I want God to forgive me on His terms, not my own shallow, selfish terms.  I want to love my neighbor as Jesus loved His neighbors – without judgment or restrictions or conditions.  “Come – follow Me.”  I want those things because I was Baptized INTO those things, as were all of you.  I take into my hands the precious elements and through the Words of Christ they become His Body and Blood – able to overcome every bit of the hellishness the devil works in us in our thinking.  It is a “reformation” every time we gather here, if we would but see and believe it!

And therein lies the miracle each of us really wants and seeks in our souls – and the end to all fickle-ness.

Amen.

 

 

 

Peace – And an Ode to Two Friends

Peace.

It comes knowing that tomorrow’s, or the next week, is covered.  I rarely request much.  It comes more from knowing that there are those special human beings one is able to call “friends.”   It is most often known in the most difficult of all disciplines – theology.  Only a few of us can say that, relatively speaking.

Da Abs.  Da bestest.  I would marry her in a heartbeat.  Just for her ability to think, although her chicken soup would certainly qualify as well.  Were she to have me . . . “dream a little dream” . . .

Fodder Fods – The quintessential pastor and theologian.   A razor would profit and sharpen itself just from knowing him!  He has a particular knack for getting to the heart of matters theological which anymore, at my age, is all I really care about.  The life to come.  This one at present, I know far more than I wish I did.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s effort, for better or worse, I watched, online, Jesus of Nazareth for all 6 hours and 20 minutes uninterrupted.  To say I was engrossed in it is an understatement.  I was “there.”  So many themes I cannot count.

Matters political are really of little consequence anymore.  What has changed on that front in my lifetime?  Precious little.  But the news of the political cycles is fodder for the media and counter-media, and can be, at times, entertainment.  The real problem is containing my laughter – having to imagine the political clowns are serious thinkers.  That hurts the grey matter to even think that, but it is still hilarious.

So life motors on.  The Lord is merciful and kind, friends are present, and Da Pug needs his Poppa, as everyone around here now calls me.  “Poppa” – ain’t that a hoot!  But it’s okay – I have come to terms with life.

It is what it is, despite our best efforts.  The peace of the Lord be with all of you.

Yet Again – It Is What It is.

There is no great accomplishment in realizing I am a sinner.   When I was introduced to the concept of “contrition” as a very young child (I was raised RCC), I got it early.  Not that I was a budding prodigy, although my theological accomplishments might say otherwise, I always knew I was a sinner.  And that has always tempered my thoughts or imaginations that I have “accomplished something.”

I have, but only under the certain conditions of the Lord.  I was physically adept, which allowed me to play baseball at a higher level than most.  But you never saw me on television.   I was never that good.  The difference between college-level baseball and the pros is so immense it is not worth mentioning.  I was able to perform and excel at my best level, which was gratifying, and gives me a few bragging rights here and there.  But no fame or fortune.  I have done a few interviews with local papers and gotten good write-ups in the sports pages and gotten a number of trophies.  It would have been nice to make the “Bigs” – but that is an altogether different talent level than I ever possessed.   It would have been nice – true – but I can also imagine how it could have destroyed me as a child of the Lord God in Christ.

In the end, my faith led me to study Lutheran (that is to say, for the uninformed, small ‘c’ catholic”) theology.  There, I found my life’s calling.  I know it doesn’t mean much to most folks.  But it is what it is.  I accomplished a Seminary education through one of the most difficult systems, and finest Seminary, there is in the world.  That has some bearing, I suppose, if I worried about “bearing” any more.  I have gotten old, and with doing so comes the wisdom of knowing one is old.  The Biblical “hoary head.”  And that perspective can never be explained to those much younger.  It, too, is what it is.

For 31 years I have, in various capacities, served my Lord’s Church on earth.  I do not wish the Lord to count the good days or the bad – I am neither that bold nor that good.  He called, I answered.  There . . . is my resume.

But I have loved it – far more than baseball – my huge childhood love.  The few left in the world who know me, and know that I am a theological addict, can attest to that – which is the one addiction worth having.  No longer having a pulpit and little chance of getting another – being “retired” – well – I sigh a lot, pray a lot, and hope a lot.  Family blood lines are long – as in ages lived to.  Physically, I am not quite the specimen I was when younger (who is?) (although I can still throw a curve ball that comes from the netherworld or thereabouts)!  By my reckoning, I have 15-20 good, active years left in the Ministry.  But –

That is not my “call.”

So – I wait, and hope, and pray.

There is nothing I would rather do – even were I 40 years younger.

Wasn’t Going to Go Here . . . But . . .

The NFL, that is.

When Kaepernick started his stupid nonsense, not to mention the several other sheer idiots that went along, I was certain the NFL would squash it like a bug.  Despite all the protest, no team has yet hired Kaepernick.

But then the top brass – Goodell in particular, did not enforce the league’s actual rules for the teams and players, which I quoted long ago.  Instead, he/they bought into the commie left’s play-making feints, and the left is in the end-zone of their own making – celebrating without a single worry of a flag being thrown.  And the NFL has begun its death spiral.  For further analysis and rather graphic pictures of the descent, one should visit Sundance’s joint.  As an aside – one should visit his site every day – be enlightened!

Will the NFL “die?”  No.  It will become mediocre, and will then have to live with mediocrity.  And the multi-millionaire players who are presently bound contractually, will find the next go-round of free agency a tad less enriching.  Muchly so, I envision.

But this is what has happened with the “Snowflake Invasion” of the commie left.  Everyone is a Social Justice Warrior!  Yawn.  They are self-absorbed idiots, pardon my repetition.  A few of us out here – even before the “professionals” like Rush and others opined, knew what was happening right away.  We live out here with boots on the ground, so to speak.  The signs of the age are upon us.  The commie left had to somehow, some way, destroy the bastion of masculinity that once was the NFL  The political “Snowflake Invasion” set the table almost perfectly.  The NFL bought into it all – hook, line and sinker.

And the fans reacted.  The NFL is seeing the results – which Sundance details.  Couple that with ESPN’s virtual embrace of the SJWs – and the entire Bavarian Fuster Cluck is coming to the point of “Who cares.”

In sports, that attitude in fans is deadly.  Those who understand the most – advertisers – move with the market.  They must, to survive.  The NFL is clearly not in a survival mode.

Dem dat pay da bills are making the real decision.